Shibli was asked: “Who guided you in the path?”
Shibli said: “A dog. One day I saw him, almost dead with thirst, standing by the water’s edge. Every time he looked at his reflection in the water he was frightened and withdrew, because he thought it was another dog.
“Finally, such was his necessity, he cast away fear and leapt into the water; at which the reflection disappeared.
“The dog found that the obstacle, which was himself, the barrier between him and what he sought, melted away.
“In this same way, my own obstacle vanished when I knew that it was what I took to be my own self. And my way was first shown to me by the behavior of…a dog.”
I look into you…and I don’t see any other barrier than yourself. You are standing in your own way. And unless you understand it, nothing is possible towards inner growth.
If somebody else was the barrier you could have dodged him, you could have bypassed him. If somebody else was the barrier you could have escaped. But you are the barrier. You cannot dodge – who will dodge whom? You cannot bypass – who will bypass whom? You cannot escape, because wherever you will go you will be there.
Your barrier is you, and it will follow you like a shadow.
This has to be understood as deeply as possible. How does this barrier arise? What is the mechanism of the ego which becomes the barrier? A hard crust around you – and you cannot fly into the sky, you cannot open into the world of love and prayer. This shell of the ego, how is it born? If you can understand the birth of the ego, you will know the secret of how to dissolve it. The very understanding of the arising of the ego becomes the freedom.
The ego is born – not that you know yourself – the ego is born through reflections. You see your reflection in the eyes of others, in the faces, in their words, and you go on accumulating those reflections. Not knowing who you are, you have to find an identity.
A child is born – he does not know who he is. But he has to know who he is, otherwise it will be impossible to live in the world. And he cannot become a buddha immediately. He does not even know the problem. He has not entered into the world yet. He will really enter into the world when he starts feeling who he is.